50 Burgers, 50 Days: Mighty Fine Burgers Fries Shakes

 
A burger a day all around Austin, plus an answer to the pressing question: fries or rings?
 
Day 13: Mighty Fine Burgers Fries Shakes
10515 N. MoPac Blvd. (Loop 1), No. 205 in the Arbor Walk shopping center. 524-2400, www.mightyfineburgers.com.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday. 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
 
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 08.23.11
 
The burger: Cheeseburger ($6.19). From the moment Mighty Fine opened its first of three Austin-area burger shops — with another on the way in Cedar Park — the places seemed like they had sprung from a well-oiled franchise, and so you didn’t hear the same kind of rhapsodic talk about them as you hear about Hut’s or Dirty’s or Top Notch.
 
But Mighty Fine’s roots grow from the same soil, a brainchild of business partners Ken Schiller and Brian Nolen of K&N Management, which also runs the Austin branches of Rudy’s barbecue. I say all that to make myself feel better saying that a cheeseburger from this big picnic barn of a place is as good as any of the Austin icons that came before. It starts with a half-pound of chuck ground on-site, then builds to a two-handed crescendo with rabbit food that includes long, crinkle-cut pickles and a bun that holds it all together without getting in the way. The cheese is a grade above ordinary fast-food American, and the result is a burger that eats like dinner. And given that this is Texas, our kids never seem to get tired of saying, “Mighty Fine,” even if we can’t always afford the nearly $40 it takes to feed the four of us here.
 
Fries or rings? Mighty Fine keeps the menu pared down to focus on moving people through the amusement-park line that ends at the register. Burgers, fries, drinks, shakes and chili dogs. No rings, no apple pies, no salads. But fries like these need no wingman. They’re whittled one potato at a time through a shiny, $40,000 monster into long, picnic-style crinkle fries, then double-dipped in the fryers for color and backbone for $1.99. But while we’re in the business of not making choices, let’s choose not to talk ourselves out of a strawberry-lemonade shake ($3.99), made from Blue Bell ice cream, real fruit and lemonade squeezed and stomped from lemons right there in the kitchen. I know, because I stomped some myself — 300 poundings  per batch — for a story on Austin’s burger kingdoms. That shake’s not on the menu, but it’s fun to watch the Mighty Fine crew turn on the jets to keep even the high-maintenance customers happy. One thing? The carnival barking of customers’ names isn’t funny or cute or country. It’s obnoxious. This isn’t Spring Break at Padre, and don’t scream “whoop-whoop” on top of it. We’re trying to sleep off our lunch over here.